Urbana Car Accident Attorney
Determining fault for a car accident is not always as simple as you think. If you were one of the drivers involved, you may be certain the other person was responsible. Knowing something and proving something are two different things. This goes double if you need to prove car accident liability to an insurance company, or possibly to a jury in a personal injury lawsuit.
The Urbana car accident liability attorneys at Patel Law, P.C., can help. We represent people who have been seriously injured in auto accidents. Our experience can assist you in understanding the events that led up to your accident and who was at-fault for what happened under Illinois law.
How to Determine Liability for a Car Accident
With some auto accidents, there is clear evidence supporting one driver’s liability over the other. A common example of this is an obvious violation of Illinois traffic laws. Let’s say one driver proceeds through an intersection with a green light, and a second driver speeds through that same intersection against a red light and hits the first driver. In this scenario, the second driver is liable for the accident, as running a red light and speeding are against the law.
There are also situations in which the law presumes that one driver is at-fault based on the relative position of the vehicles prior to a collision. The most common example of this is a rear-end accident. If another driver is “tailgating” you–i.e., fails to maintain a safe distance behind our vehicle–and hits you when you stop, then the rear-end driver is usually considered liable for the accident.
Of course, there are plenty of cases in which accident liability is not so obvious or apparent. In those situations, it is often necessary to look for additional evidence, including accounts from any eyewitnesses to the accident, photos of the accident scene and any vehicle damage, and even expert reports from accident reconstruction specialists.
Will the Police or My Insurance Company Determine Liability for My Car Accident?
If the police respond to your accident, officers will take statements from you, the other driver, and any witnesses before submitting a formal report. This report may express the officer’s professional opinion as to who caused the accident. In some situations, the officer may even issue a traffic citation to the other driver if a law has been broken. All of this can be used as evidence to help support a subsequent personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Even when the police do not get involved in an accident, your insurance company will. An insurer will assign one of its adjusters to conduct an independent investigation into the accident. Unlike the police, the insurance company will always make a determination of fault. This includes your fault as well as that of the other driver. Keep in mind, the insurance company is not there to protect you but itself. This is why it is critical to hire a qualified Urbana auto accident liability lawyer whose only job is to advocate for your interests.
Ultimately, if you do end up in court, it will be up to you to prove the other driver’s negligence. The police and your insurance company may provide you with evidence that will prove useful. But it is your responsibility to establish negligence by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
What if I am Partially Liable for an Auto Accident?
Illinois follows what is called a “comparative negligence” rule in auto accident cases. What this means is simple: You can still collect damages from the other driver even if the court decides you were partially at-fault for what happened. As long as you were no more than 50% responsible, the other driver must still pay up. This is normally done by determining your total damages arising from the accident–medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, et cetera–and reducing that amount by your percentage of fault.
What Steps do I Need to Take Following a Car Accident?
If you are in a car accident, there are three things you should always do right away — stop your car, give aid to anyone who might be injured, and call the police. You should also obtain the name and address of any other drivers involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses who saw what happened. It is also a good idea to take pictures of your vehicles and the accident scene using your smartphone. Once things are squared away at the accident scene, you should see your doctor even if you do not think you were seriously injured.
Contact the Urbana Car Accident Liability Attorneys at Patel Law, P.C., Today
When it comes to proving a driver’s liability for your auto accident, you are not alone. Urbana automobile negligence attorney Baku N. Patel and his team stand ready to assist you in making your case. Contact Patel Law, P.C.today to schedule a consultation.